Some managers believe that the best methods for empowering employees are training and mentoring. No doubt this has an impact, but outside of all that extra wisdom managers are imparting to their teams, how else can employees be empowered? It might hurt to hear, but sometimes all your employees really need is the right tool for the job and for you to get out of their way. In these cases, the right tool is information.
You may not have considered it, but real-time data and information are methods of empowerment. Employees thrive on information. Companies are moving away from the limitations of only informing those “need-to-know” players. Sharing only the bare minimum or withholding information from teams can stunt progress and leaves employees feeling left out or diminished.
Taking the steps to provide employees with greater clarity and information on any assignment, and giving them the ability to use that information can empower them while helping you make better decisions for your business.
Electrical contractors, for instance, might handle the design, installation, maintenance and service calls on thousands of work orders each year. With that many projects in the works, a contractor of any size is likely to encounter a few issues completing, tracking and managing accurate information on the many work orders from its many service technicians in the field.
With all this information being passed among service teams, savvy organizations need a way to better manage it. One way to manage this information is through cloud-based service management systems, which can house and clarify data for every member of your team—owners, service managers, dispatchers, and the ones who need it most: service technicians.
Wilson Electric Services Corp., a special systems and electrical contractor in Tempe, Arizona, moved over to a service management system after noticing a significant gap in information gathering. “We didn’t have anything [from] our service department other than job cost and contracts. Because they do a lot of small, rapid-turnover work, jobs and contracts aren’t really made for that, so we were trying to fit a square peg in a round hole,” said Terry Oakes, Wilson Electric CFO, in a recent software case study.
Making more information available to service technicians in the field can provide a unified vision for everyone throughout the organization—whether they work in the office or in the field. Giving technicians better access to information not only increases their commitment to the work that needs to be done, it bolsters their contribution to the company’s overall health and offers the customer a deeper level of satisfaction with the speed and accuracy of the work being done.
Like an electrician without pliers, a service contractor that isn’t equipping its technicians with the right mobile technologies and solutions is going to have a greater difficulty getting the job done right in the field.
Using a cloud-based service management software system that connects the office and the field, service technicians have the ability to focus on what they need to: their service work. If you’re a service contractor, it’s the reason you’re in business, and service work allows you to thrive during larger project dry spells.
By relieving technicians of the added pressures of keeping up with paper documentation, work order updates and data entry back in the office, they are empowered to turn themselves into self-reliant managers in the field.
The right service management solutions deployed in the field also increase satisfaction of the end clients. Work orders can be signed off on on-site through e-signature. That signed document can be sent to the client immediately, and quickly routed to accounting for faster processing and payment. Empowering service technicians to handle completion of the job under their own management and oversight ultimately makes them more invested in the organization. More than just gathering information, modern field technologies allow technicians to feel confident in their work. By streamlining processes, techs work smarter and faster, meaning clients will be happier with the service they’re receiving.
Check out this video where Portland, Oregon-based Christensen Electric talks about how they focus on turning their technicians into their own self-reliant managers.
Wilson Electric’s Oakes adds that powerful back office service management solutions allow for significantly better tracking of costs and billings. “Service work [can] be billed as separate line items automatically with time and material or as a lump sum. We can see which of our people are bringing work in, how they are doing. We know if we’re profitable or not, which we couldn’t always tell before. We can do a whole lot more analysis of the work we’ve done—what’s profitable and what’s not—with very fine precision that we never had before,” Oakes said. “It helps us not just track and analyze things, but it directs our business development efforts, which we couldn’t do before—except by guessing.”